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Songs of Hoagy Carmichael

Mike Kaupa, flugelhorn and trumpet
Ric Vice, bass
Tom George, piano



"Throughout, the jazz renditions included on Stardust place Carmichael’s glorious melodies front and center. Mike Kaupa (flugelhorn and trumpet) assumes the role of lead vocalist, introducing Carmichael’s melodies that serve as the basis for improvisatory flights by the trio. Kaupa is a wonderfully sensitive interpreter who invariably captures the mood of each song. His rendition of the iconic title track is arresting in its tonal beauty, and sensitivity and plasticity of phrasing. Bass Ric Vice and pianist Tom George are likewise expert jazz performers who demonstrate a palpable affection for Carmichael’s music...  the trio’s renditions manifest the effortless, syrupy flow evident both in Carmichael’s songs and his own recordings of them. The recorded sound is excellent; with the performers accorded a well-balanced, ambient, and detailed acoustic. Ric Vice’s liner notes are both engaging and informative. These are lovely performances of some of the shining stars from the Great American Songbook; recommended."
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [September/October 2021]
"Carmichael’s songs contain melodies full of yearning dissonances, blues harmonies, and passionate bel canto. With the rhythmic bass of Ric Vice, flugelhorn/trumpet player Mike Kaupa and pianist Tom George play Carmichael’s music with the kind of musical partnership that can only be achieved over years of playing together. This is a gem of a recording and the musicians are the reason for its excellence. The playing is great and the sound clear."
Maria Nockin, Fanfare [September/October 2021]
"Celebrations of notable figures in jazz don’t come much better than this. The overall impression, before we dig deeper, is of three friends, each at the height of their interpretative and technical powers, allowing themselves to riff on songs by Hoagy Carmichael in the most brilliant way possible... This is a superbly constructed, performed, and engineered program, clearly the result of love of this repertoire."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [September/October 2021]
"Because [Carmichael's songs] reflected the personality of their creator to a high degree, you have to have the right rapport among the performing artists, or the results just won’t sound “right.” Happily, the present CD album finds the requisite chemistry in its three featured musicians... Start with Mike Kaupa, whose artistry on both trumpet and flugelhorn finds expression in the way he can embroider the melody of a song with choicest embellishments, countermelodies, and lyricism without doing violence to the song’s intention. Add bassist Ric Vice, whose style is at one and the same time fluid, stylish and unobtrusive. Conclude with pianist Tom George who gigged often with Kaupa in the 1980‟s, and you have a perfect trio to put across the wonderful personality that was Hoagy Carmichael... the personality of Hoagy Carmichael himself comes through in the present jazz renditions by Mike Kaupa, Ric Vice and Tom George, which makes their present offerings all the more treasurable."
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [Spring 2021]
There’s one thing about Hoagy Carmichael (born in Bloomington, Indiana, on 22 November 1899 and died in Rancho Mirage, California, on 27 December 1981) that’s undeniable: no two of his songs sound alike. If you hid his name on all the songs titles, played them for a friend, and asked which ones were from the same writer, they likely would not be able to tell. Each of Hoagy’s tunes has a unique personality. As a general rule of thumb, he would compose the melody first and then collaborate with the lyricist to get a good fit between the tune and its text, much in the same way that George and Ira Gershwin collaborated. But that’s a rule Hoagy often broke.
When people come across an album entirely of tunes by Hoagy Carmichael, they might ask “why” – which is a valid question. In the case of this album, Stardust, the answer is in the players. We have here an amazing trumpet player, Mike Kaupa, and a sensitive, accomplished pianist, Tom George, who played together for years, often in Rochester, New York, in the 1980s when they gigged in the area. It’s fitting that their pairing is much like another, but from the 1920s, between a budding songwriter named Hoagy Carmichael and trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke.
Mike would likely blush a little being compared to the legendary trumpet player, but from the listener’s perch, he’s got that same fluidity and grace that Bix Beiderbecke had. Mike has the uncanny ability that few players have to dance around the melody of a song with a little embellishment, countermelody and lyricism. Tom is his perfect counterpart, subtly providing the harmonic color and nuance that frame Mike’s solos, while contributing some tasty solos of his own. To complete the picture, Ric Vice, whose idea it was to record this album dedicated exclusively to Hoagy Carmichael songs, contributes the foundation of smooth, stylish bass playing. Like Mike and Tom, Ric allows Hoagy’s music to come forth with his memorable melodies first and foremost.
Jazz trumpeter Mike Kaupa has toured North America, Europe and Japan as a leader and member of several groups, including ONIX in Spain, Equinox in Lyon, Institute for Creative Music in the United States, Existing Reality in the United States and England, and most notably the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the United States, Canada and Japan. In Barcelona, he was on faculty at the Taller de Músics school and from 2001 to 2005 was on faculty at the annual Seminario de Jazz in Barcelona. He also performed at the Palau de la Musica there. Mike was an interim instructor of jazz trumpet at the Eastman School of Music in the 1999-2000 school year and in the spring of 2010. He recently performed at the Remembering Marian concert tribute to Marian McPartland at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. He has been a guest artist with the Penn State University Jazz Ensemble, University of Oregon Jazz Ensemble, Fredonia Jazz Ensemble and New Jazz Ensemble at the Eastman School of Music. Among others, he has performed with Jorge Rossy, Ben Monder, Jon Faddis, Mark Murphy, Gary Bartz, Luciana Souza, Joe Locke, Mel Torme and Ray Charles, and with the Buffalo Philharmonic Pops and Rochester Philharmonic Pops. Mike, who holds music degrees from Fredonia State University and the University of Miami, is currently on faculty at the Harley School, Finger Lakes Community College and Eastman Community Music School. Based in Rochester, New York, Mike maintains a busy schedule of teaching and performing.
Ric Vice is a free-lance bassist in the St. Louis region, where he has performed with Herb Ellis, Diana Krall, Jeff Clayton, Sheila Jordan, Oleta Adams, Rosanne Vitro and Rob McConnell. Ric performs regularly on the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University and in 2010 toured with Mary Wilson of the legendary Motown group, the Supremes. He has recorded with the Kim Portnoy Trio and songstress Feyza Eren. In December 2015, he had the privilege of performing with jazz vocalist Rosanne Vitro. Ric is also active as a first-call bassist in the St. Louis cabaret scene. He has worked with Rick Jensen and Steven Ray Watkins on different cabaret shows performed at the Kranzberg Arts Center. In 2015, he was featured as the house bassist for the St. Louis Cabaret Festival, presented at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Ric was the featured bassist at the 2018 Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonica Convention, performing with Rob Papparizi, Philip Jers and a host of other top jazz and blues harmonica players.
Tom George is an accomplished jazz pianist and has performed throughout the United States and overseas, both on solo keyboard and leading a combo. He has arranged and performed various programs and revues with cabaret singers and dancers, in music halls, local eateries and churches. Tom has also been a featured soloist with bands as part of the Missouri Music Educators’ Association Annual Conference. In addition to many venues in Missouri, he has performed at Art in the Park in Belleville, Illinois; Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois; University of Arkansas; Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania; Nanjing University and Northwestern Polytechnical University in China; in Szeged, Hungary; West University of Timisoara in Romania; Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait; University of Sarajevo in Bosnia; University of Dubrovnik in Croatia; and the Muscat Cultural Centre in Oman. He has also performed in Russian Siberia. Prior to taking up jazz, Tom studied classical piano for ten years, beginning at age six. He also trained as an organist, studying with Barbara Harbach, Herbert Springer and Eugene Belt, and playing for church services in the Philadelphia, New Haven and Boston areas. Tom studied jazz piano with John Mehegan at the Juilliard School of Music, Barry Kiener of the Buddy Rich Band, and with faculty at the Berklee College of Music and the Eastman School of Music. Dr. Tom George serves as Chancellor Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He is an active researcher in laser and nanophysics, with work that has led to eight authored books, 24 edited books and 800 papers.
Recorded 12 June 2018 at The Anheuser-Busch Theater, Touhill Performing Arts Center. A Candlewood Digital high resolution Natural Presence™ recording: Produced, engineered, edited and mastered by Richard Price. Piano Technician: Gregory Winchell.
Hoagy Carmichael
In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening
Lazy River
Georgia on My Mind
Heart and Soul
The Nearness of You
One Morning in May
I Get Along Without You Very Well

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